Moondog Marketing is proud to have Martin Gagnon guest blogging this week. Martin is the senior manager of digital marketing at Bell Canada.
A widespread practice amongst B2B sellers and marketers who start integrating more social into their marketing mix is to overuse the standard selling approach. Big mistake.
Whatever the size of your business – small, medium or large – the B2B world is made of people eager to learn, partner, exchange. But they don’t usually like to be “pitched”. A good business relationship is built step-by-step. Trust takes time. Social media is the best way to nurture a strong relationship. And even though the expression “social selling” is well known and still very popular, the “social” beast doesn’t live well with the “selling” one. They even tend to repel each other.
How to be Better
So, how can you improve your social media impact and become a real “social selling” expert?
Well, saying it in a very simple way, you need to stop selling and start to really care about your network.
Here are tangible tips to make this happen.
Are you paying attention to the posts of your LinkedIn connections and interacting with them in a way that adds value? Are you sharing relevant insights? It all starts there. Before receiving, you need to give.
Always add an introduction to your posts
Every time you share a new post from an external source, you should mention at least one good reason to read it. What’s in it for me as the reader of your post? What will I learn by reading this article? Your followers shouldn’t have to click on a link to find this out by themselves.
Comment in an engaging way
While it is easier and faster to like someone else’s post, it is much more engaging to add a personal comment, when appropriate and pertinent. What did you find interesting in this post? Commenting is a way to open a potential conversation with the author of the posts and others.
Expand instead of divide
Avoid as much as possible re-sharing a post that was previously created by someone else on LinkedIn; when you do so, it starts a new conversation in parallel, leaving behind all potential interactions with people seeing/commenting the original post. Instead of re-sharing a LinkedIn post, add a comment to expand its reach and combine more voices together.
Draw attention by mentioning names
When you share or comment, draw the attention of other LinkedIn members by adding @ before their name to activate a link to their LinkedIn profile. They will then be notified that they were mentioned in a post, which will be a subtle invitation for them to jump in the conversation as well.
Use a Phased Approach in Your Social
We all receive canned messages from people we don’t know or right after we accepted their invitation to connect, typically suggesting a brief chat. This approach is way too aggressive. It may work sometimes, if you’re lucky, but most people ignore you.
The beauty with social platforms is that they give you the opportunity to build a progressive approach and recognize when it’s time to connect more directly. Examples of things to do in a successful phased approach:
Watch the social interactions of people you’d like to more particularly engage with. Learn their interests. If they are not very socially active, look at their background and education to find things you have in common.
Start by sending an InMail with something of value, not a meeting request. For instance, you saw or created a LinkedIn post that you believe would be of interest for someone in your network? Click on “Share” and then “Send as Message”. It’s a good way to reach people more directly in your network with a personal touch.
Advertise your presence in events
If you plan to attend an industry event, as a participant, as a representative in the exhibition area or – even better – as a speaker, let your network know in advance that you will be there and invite them to capture this opportunity to connect face to face. The day of the event, Twitter is the perfect complement to inform your network in real time. (Be sure to use the official hashtag of the event!)
Be Disciplined in Your Social
You can’t build a cathedral overnight. The same way, you can’t expect results from dispersed efforts on social networks. To get results, you need to be engaged, disciplined and fully committed. Without momentum, there is no salvation. Examples of ways to build a good cadence:
Enter LinkedIn into your daily schedule
Fifteen years ago, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey and I still put this learning into practice. We often let the “not important” and “urgent” things (interruptions, phone calls, emails. etc.) pass over the “important” and “non-urgent” ones (looking for new opportunities, planning, training, etc.). Building your relationships and learning from your connections on LinkedIn goes into this “important” and “non-urgent” bucket… To reach your buyers, you need to build a cadence and have an eye on your social network on a regular base.
Engage on LinkedIn before meeting someone the first time
It should become part of your new natural “social” instincts to connect with people on LinkedIn before meeting them for the first time. It shows your interest and that you are coming prepared at the meeting. Also, by looking at the profiles of your contacts in preparation of a meeting, it could give you a very good conversation starter (e.g. “I saw that you presented at the XYZ event last week, how did it go?”
Install the LinkedIn app to stay connected on the go
When you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or metro station, seize this opportunity to take your phone and look at your LinkedIn news feed or profiles of people who invited you to connect.
Play the Social Long Game
Here’s the skinny! If you follow these tips, you will not necessarily end up closing tons of new sales. I guarantee, however, that you will meet enriching people whom you probably would have never been able to connect without social media and that you will learn a lot from. Who knows? Some of these new business contacts might enjoy the interactions they have with you, recognize your value and eventually take interest in developing a new – mutually beneficial – business relationship.
Looking forward to hearing your own tips and feedback.
Image via linkedinmasters.com